Latimer House is an indie pop/rock group based out of Prague’s dynamic music scene. They’ve successfully recorded and released their full-length debut album, All the Rage, this month. And with an old school sound similar to bands such as Talking Heads, The Smiths, and Dire Straits, All the Rage seems to be a reincarnation of a forgotten genre made popular in the early 80’s. The band describes their sound as ‘guitar-driven literate pop,’ and they couldn’t be closer to the truth.
A signature style of lead singer/songwriter Joe Cook is his usage of simple rhymes and lyrical streams of what appear to be political and observational consciousness. The seemingly ambiguous lyrical streams don’t always function as melodic ones. However, they allow for intermittent melodic lines to jump out… a fascinating technique for underscoring those hard-hitting melodies. On the other hand a lot of the melody lends itself to the instrumentation. With the dynamic use of instrumentation—I’d say—All the Rage is more riff-driven than guitar driven.
All the Rage is an eclectic collage of sounds. With instrumentation that includes: mandolin, violin, trumpet, and cello the band goes beyond the humdrum four piece set, and into a sonority with more comprehensive textures and arrangements. The Cello and violin in ‘Burn’ are masterfully placed, adding a thought-provoking element between stanzas. The cello’s use of pizzicato is a splendid touch to this brooding number. And the eerily exotic cry of the violin in ‘Open your Heart’ seems to whisk you into a more groove oriented verse/chorus section punctuated by blaring trumpets. ‘Birdcage Walk’ seems to drone effortlessly with ornamental mandolin and what sounds like moog synths. There’s something canonic about the instrumental riffs between mandolin and synth that seem to give the tune an uplifting vibe.
All the Rage seems to explore a familiar yet well-worn genre, and from a unique perspective that only Latimer House could have produced. In other words, All the Rage is a refreshing compilation of personalized songs. It seems to infuse blues, jazz, and pop into an 80’s retro rock style without sounding overreaching or gimmicky, which is not an easy thing to do when working within such a selective genre. Give it a listen and decide for yourself.